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Photo:Dzień kobiet bez kompromisów, Kraków, 20210308 1924 3050,” by Jakub Hałun licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. The hue is modified from the original.

O’sullivan, Míla, and Kateřina Krulišová. “Women, Peace and Security in central Europe: in between the western agenda and Russian imperialism.” International Affairs 99, no. 2 (2023): 625-643.


Although firmly established as a global norm, the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS) has been largely driven by the global North attempting to solve insecurities in the global South. Postcolonial feminist research shows that this western-centrism and colonial legacies continue to dominate both WPS practices and knowledge production. This article focuses on WPS in central Europe, a previously ignored ‘non-region’ that remains outside the North–South divide. Combining postcolonial and decolonial approaches with feminist institutionalism, we interrogate what WPS becomes in the Czech, Polish and Slovakian contexts characterized by illiberal populist and anti-gender governance and politics. Building on interviews with key stakeholders, on document analysis and our own encounters, we argue that the three countries understand WPS as key to their western belongingness and reliability as international partners. As a result, they replicate rather than challenge ‘western’ WPS thinking. The resulting National Action Plans are centred around women’s participation and security problems ‘out there’. This lack of localization enables them to stay immune to the anti-gender alliances, but limits the engagement of feminist civil society. Amidst Russian imperial aggression, central Europe’s WPS agendas serve as mere paper tigers and are failing to address the multitude of domestic and regional gendered insecurities.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.